Today I watched several families at church interact and it brought to mind several years ago when my husband and I went out to dinner to celebrate my birthday. We had a great view of the ocean in a quiet corner. There was soft music, candlelight, and good food, everything conducive to paying attention to each other. Shortly after sitting down a family of seven was seated nearby consisting of two grand-parents, two parents and three children. The youngest was small enough to need a booster seat and the middle child was about 9 or 10 years old. The oldest was probably 14 or 15 years old. Everyone was barely in their seats before all the electronics were pulled out. The smallest had a portable DVD player with ear phones and was watching the latest Barbie movie. The middle child, a boy, pulled out a hand-held video game player and was furiously working his thumbs. The oldest girl had her cell phone out and was texting away. I watched off and on throughout the dinner. The children were quiet, it was true, but with three generations sitting together there was no interaction among the different family members. It was clear that electronics had long been the babysitter, their parent and best friend.
Dinner time. Brings back so many memories doesn’t it? You gathered every night at the table, everyone talking at once. Stories of the day at school, a meeting or work. Fellowship, camaraderie, socializing … just being a family. Some of my fondest memories are reunions and church gatherings with plenty of food and places to sit and talk. But then came the gadgets, the electronics that made our lives simpler so we could spend more time together. Right? Sadly, it has not turned out that way. We have lost the ability to communicate and function. No one can function without their electronics. We live and breathe by them. If we have a power failure we will not know what to do.
The term dysfunctional family is tossed around like seeds to the ground hoping they will take root and grow into something. The truth is that we need to make our families function again as God intended. It saddens me to see families ‘together’ without being together. We are going to have to take action. Somewhere the keys of control were handed over to the children to the point that no control reaches them. They all function autonomously. I doubt that you will be the most popular parent when you take the reins and slow things down. You must start by taking back the controls so that you can function again as a family. Saying ‘no’ is harder than allowing them to go their merry way.
I believe that by allowing them to run their lives free of control, parents are setting an example for their spiritual life as well. There is a place for control in everyone’s life. We all need to control ourselves, self discipline is so important to turning over our lives to the Lord. You cannot be successful in a friendship, relationship, or family until you are successful in your relationship with Christ. You will have to bring everything to a full STOP. Control cannot be taken over at 100 miles an hour without a wreck. STOP. Look to the Bible and see what God says. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) and ” Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger (James 1:19), are good verses to apply in handing over the reins to God. Children need to be trained from early on about control, boundaries and self discipline. For those who started late you simply have to start small with your children. You will have to teach them control, self discipline and applying the truths of the Word in their life through the example of your own life.
In thinking about meal time I have decided to start another page solely for meals. My daughters call me from time to time for recipes and hints about shopping and cooking. So notice my new tab “What’s For Dinner” and let me know what you think!